Smokers lose at least 10 years of life expectancy, compared with those who have never smoked, according to a study published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine. Quitting before age 40 can reduce the excess risk of death associated with smoking by about 90 percent, USA Today reports.
“Smoking is the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the U.S.,” study co-author Tim McAfee, Director of the Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the newspaper. “We need to do more to educate the American people about these findings.”
The study, which included data from 1997 to 2004, found women smokers die at a similar rate to their male counterparts. Previous research suggested women were less likely than men to die from smoking. “Women now lose about 11 years of life expectancy if they smoke,” McAfee says. “Men lose about 12 years.”
He noted women’s smoking patterns are thought to be similar to men’s in terms of the age they start smoking, and the number of cigarettes they smoke.